Victory on the streets of Baltimore has given Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and its drivers Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr both LMP1 Drivers’ and Team Championship titles in the 2013 American Le Mans Series. The new champions survived a chaotic two-hour race on Saturday evening (31 August) to score a sixth consecutive win in their all-conquering Honda Performance Development ARX-03C Honda.
With two titles successfully in the bag, Honda Performance Development’s next goal is to add the coveted Manufacturers’ title – an honour which can be secured at the next race staged at Circuit of the Americas just outside of Austin, Texas, on 21 September. It will be the first time ALMS has headlined at the newest major motor sports facility in North America and new home to the United States Grand Prix.
Three HPD drivers are also locked in a battle for the LMP2 title. The Level 5 Motorsports entered HPD ARX-03b of championship leader Scott Tucker was eliminated when the innocent victim of a multi-car start line shunt in Baltimore. The sister HPD prototype of Marino Franchitti and new team-mate Guy Cosmo, negotiated its way through various incidents to finish third overall and thus take maximum points in the category. As a result the Scot now leads the LMP2 category with three rounds remaining on the 2014 calendar.
PAGENAUD PUTS HONDA BACK ON TOP
The weekend’s IndyCar/ALMS unification on the downtown streets of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor produced further success for Honda when Simon Pagenaud came through the carnage to score his second IZOD IndyCar Series win of 2013 in his Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda Dallara.
Victory in the accident-strewn Grand Prix of Baltimore (1 September) was Honda’s eighth of the season, taking it back to the top of Manufacturers’ Championship – tied with Chevrolet – with only three races remaining.
Pagenaud was among the front-runners throughout having qualified third and grabbed the lead after a restart in the closing laps. The win has now moved him up into third place in the Drivers’ Championship.
For the second weekend in a row Scott Dixon had appeared to be on target to close the gap on points leader Helio Castroneves. The Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, however, was controversially put into the barriers by Castroneves’ team-mate Will Power. The clash came just one week after Dixon was penalised for hitting one of Power’s pit crew at Sonoma.
The IZOD IndyCar Series now takes a four-week break before resuming on 4-6 October with the third and final double-header race weekend of 2013, the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers, at the Reliant Park temporary street circuit in Houston, Texas.
TITLE WINNING HONDA SAYS GOODBYE TO THE ARC
Honda Australia has announced that this record-breaking season will be its last in the Australian Rally Championship.
The company’s first taste of rallying came back in 2008, when British rally driver Guy Wilks competed in two rounds of the ARC from behind the wheel of a Civic Type R.
Encouraged by this experience, Honda Australia then teamed up with Evans Motorsport at the start of 2010 with then rising star Eli Evans and co-driver Glen Weston – the pair initially rallying a Civic before progressing to a competition-prepared Honda Jazz.
Over the last four campaigns, Honda has been the only manufacturer backing a team in the ARC until this year. In that time Evans and Weston have enjoyed some major successes. They claimed a class title in 2012 and now are firmly on target to capture the overall crown following the ARC’s move to a two-wheel-drive format at the start of 2013. Moreover, earlier this year Evans toppled the late Possum Bourne’s record of the most consecutive rally wins, with nine victories from nine starts.